Damage significant in coalfield flooding

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Five counties of southern West Virginia were hammered with high water over the weekend which caused significant damages.  Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency in Mingo, Logan, Lincoln, Wayne, and Boone counties in the aftermath.

“The biggest damages we’ve seen so far have been private bridges washed out,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Jimmy Gianato. “We’ve had reports of up to 50 of those washed out.”

Gianato added the were also dealing with significant damage to about 25 home in the area, most of them impacted by hillside mudslides. The Division of Highways reports approximately $8 million dollars in damages to roads and bridges in the affected areas.

Flood watches which were originally posted for Wednesday afternoon were eventually cancelled, but Gianato said he expected more would be added in the days ahead, particularly into the weekend.  Gianato said the conditions right now are right for a high water event.

“Without the vegetation as the rain falls it runs straight off and winds up in the streams,” he said. “We’re still seeing a lot of rain coming out of the mountains from the previous storms and from the ice and snow melt from earlier this year. We feel like it’s going to continue to be a problem for the next couple of months.”

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